Warner Bros. wants ‘The Fugitive’ to go on the run once again

There is a purity to the concept of “The Fugitive” that I admire. When the original four-season series ended, almost half of the available audience tuned in to see whether or not Richard Kimble would be able to finally bring the mysterious one-armed man to justice before being captured by the cops who had been chasing him throughout the entire run of the show. I can't even imagine a show so popular that half of the population tuned in at the same time, and I'm not sure TV will ever create another hit with that kind of reach in our world of a million channels.

The 1993 feature film version of “The Fugitive” was unexpectedly huge when it was released. Heading into that summer, the biggest question was whether “Jurassic Park” or “The Last Action Hero” would be the hit of the summer, and while the dinosaurs did indeed prove to be unstoppable, so did Andrew Davis's adaptation, with Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble and Tommy Lee Jones giving an Oscar-winning performance as US Marshall Gerard.

They've tried several times to develop a sequel that would somehow reunite the actors, but it seems like a story they couldn't crack. They made a weird sort of sideways sequel with “US Marshalls,” a movie that put Gerard front and center while he chased Wesley Snipes. It was pretty clear from the audience's reaction that no one was asking for that sequel, and since then, the property has stayed idle at Warner Bros.

According to Deadline, there is a new version that is now being developed by Arnold and Anne Kopelson, and Fleming goes out of his way to hint that this may turn out to be a reunion for Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones as Kimble and Gerard. If that turns out to be true, that is a disastrously stupid idea, and a completely pointless narrative exercise. Part of what made “The Fugitive” work was the self-contained nature of the story. While Harrison Ford does appear to be smack-dab in the middle of the Former Glories Victory Tour thanks to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the upcoming “Blade Runner” sequel, the idea of him playing Kimble again seems like a dead-end.

What's far more likely is that they'll ask screenwriter Christina Hudson to create a more franchise-minded take on the property that can play out over the course of several movies. If they seed things properly in the first film, they don't have to find that one-armed man in the first film. They can put Kimble at the center of a conspiracy that he has to unravel over the course of several films, and they'll cast it with guys old enough to make it credible but young enough to keep doing this as long as Warner feels like they can keep an audience dangling.

There's no way a version of “The Fugitive” released today would be willing to wrap things up as neatly as the 1993 film did, and that's a shame. It's part of what made the movie so satisfying. It worked as the opposite of the TV show, and now, it feels like studios want every property to work like a TV show, constantly baiting the audience to keep coming back while delivering just enough narrative crumbs to make them feel like they saw a “real” movie.

No word yet on when this “Fugitive” might run.